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Gateways | Dani Netherclift

But in the midst of play

rituals miss a beat—

— John Kinsella

The road to town always a-shimmer

of dry distance, we chant I can see Wych-ee/I can see Wych-ee, passengers entering after absence

over the road from our corner-house is a sign that reads “Gateway to the Mallee” & the old steam train stilled quiet & mounted on Broadway

(where caged birds peacocks & fowls cockatoos dance cocky dance cocky dance

dance dance my thumb inserted once between the bars the nail bloodily excised

you’ve seen what they can do)

smells of dead grease & long-discarded things & beyond that the twin silver silos—

children roaming free as children did climbing metal ladders entering the golden lair

bridges that led nowhere

air heavy aqueous with dry gold dust leaping

into breathless mounds twenty feet deep even knowing the stories

silhouetting the breasted centre of wheat (a solid susurration that held without devouring)

we never feared drowning not really there were no eyes but each other’s

witnesses then

to the impossibility

of dying.

Dani Netherclift lives on Taungurung country. She was the winner of the 2020 AAWP/Slow Canoe Creative Nonfiction Prize and has words in the Recent Works Press Anthology What We Carry, and upcoming work in Rabbit 33 and Meniscus.


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